In ancient times MAGIC and science were indiscernible


The magician produces something from nothing—a rabbit from an empty hat, a fan of cards from thin air, a shower of coins from an empty bucket, a dove from a pan, or the magician him or herself, appearing in a puff of smoke on an empty stage—all of these effects are productions.



The magician makes something disappear—a coin, a cage of doves, milk from a newspaper, an assistant from a cabinet, or even the Statue of Liberty. A vanish, being the reverse of a production, may use a similar technique, in reverse.



The magician transforms something from one state into another—a silk handkerchief changes colour, a lady turns into a tiger, an indifferent card changes to the spectator's chosen card. A transformation can be seen as a combination of a vanish and a production.



The magician destroys an object, then restores it back to its original state—a rope is cut, a newspaper is torn, a woman is sawn in half, a borrowed watch is smashed to pieces—then they are all restored to their original state.



The magician causes something to move from one place to another—a borrowed ring is found inside a ball of wool, a canary inside a light bulb, an assistant from a cabinet to the back of the theatre. When two objects exchange places, it is called a transposition: a simultaneous, double teleportation.

Escape: The magician (an assistant may participate, but the magician himself is by far the most common) is placed in a restraining device (i.e. handcuffs or a straitjacket) or a death trap, and escapes to safety. Examples include being put in a straitjacket and into an overflowing tank of water, and being tied up and placed in a car being sent through a car crusher.



The magician defies gravity, either by making something float in the air, or with the aid of another object (suspension)—a silver ball floats around a cloth, an assistant floats in mid-air, another is suspended from a broom, a scarf dances in a sealed bottle, the magician hovers a few inches off the floor.

Penetration: The magician makes a solid object pass through another—a set of steel rings link and unlink, a candle penetrates an arm, swords pass through an assistant in a basket, a saltshaker penetrates the table-top, a man walks through a mirror. Sometimes referred to as "solid-through-solid".

Prediction: The magician predicts the choice of a spectator, or the outcome of an event under seemingly impossible circumstances—a newspaper headline is predicted, the total amount of loose change in the spectator's pocket, a picture drawn on a slate.

Many magical routines use combinations of effects. For example, in "cups and balls" a magician may use vanishes, productions, penetrations, teleportation and transformations as part of the one presentation.

There is discussion among magicians as to how a given effect is to be categorized, and disagreement as to what categories actually exist—for instance, some magicians consider "penetrations" to be a separate category, while others consider penetrations a form of restoration or teleportation. Some magicians today, such as Guy Hollingworth and Tom Stone, have begun to challenge the notion that all magic effects fit into a limited number of categories. Among magicians who believe in a limited number of categories (such as Dariel Fitzkee, Harlan Tarbell, S.H. Sharpe), there has been disagreement as to how many different types of effects there are. Some of these are listed below.

Magic is practiced in many cultures, and utilizes ways of understanding, experiencing and influencing the world somewhat akin to those offered by religion.

 The concept of magic as a separate category to that of religion first appeared in Judaism, which derided as magic the practices of pagan worship designed to appease and receive benefits from gods other than G-d of Israel.

Hanegraaff further argues that magic is in fact " a largely polemical concept that has been used by various religious interest groups either to describe their own religious beliefs and practices or - more frequently - to descredit those of others" Magic is often viewed with suspicion by the wider community, and is sometimes practiced in isolation and secrecy.

The belief in and the practise of magic has been present since the earliest human cultures and continues to have an important religious and medicinal role in many cultures today.

"Magic is central not only in 'primitive' societies but in 'high cultural' societies as well...

Modern "Western" magic-men generally state magic's primary purpose to be personal spiritual growth.

Modern perspectives on the theory of magic broadly follow two major views[citation needed.

The first sees magic as a result of a universal sympathy within the universe, where if something is done here a result happens somewhere else. The other view sees magic as a collaboration with spirits who cause the effect.

Common Features of Magical Practice

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

― Arthur C. Clarke from “The Three Laws of Prediction”

The religious beliefs and practices of the Celts grew into what later became known as Paganism, not to be confused with the term Neo-Paganism, which is beyond the scope of this writing.

The word Pagan is derived from the Latin word Paganus, meaning "country dweller." This outgrowth was consistent with the Celts' love for the land and their holding such things as the oak tree and mistletoe sacred.

Paganistic beliefs and rituals blended with those of other Indo-European descended groups, and over several centuries spawned such practices as concocting potions and ointments, casting spells, and performing works of magic. These practices, along with many of the nature-based beliefs held by the Celts and other groups, became collectively known as witchcraft.

The term witch, which means to "twist or bend," has its origin in the ancient, Anglo-Saxon word "wicca," which is derived from the word "wicce," which means "wise." Witch is also related to the German word, "weihen," which means "to consecrate or bless." Some say that the origins of the witch date back thousands of years, to the days when the goddess was worshiped and humanity had great reverence for the powers of nature and for women as creators of new life. In the "New Age" philosophy, this relates to the concept of "Gaia," or "Mother Earth," which views planet earth as essentially a living being.

Prior to the 14th century, witchcraft came to mean a collection of beliefs and practices including healing through spells, mixing ointments or concoctions, dabbling in the supernatural, divining or forecasting the future, and engaging in clairvoyance. Groups holding to other beliefs and rituals often branded witchcraft as "demon-worship."

After North America was discovered and Europeans began migrating to the new land, witchcraft came into practice by some of the early, colonial settlers. Since it had previously been branded as "demon-worship," witchcraft was forbidden throughout the North American colonies. Despite this decree by the powers of the day, some colonists secretly practiced witchcraft knowing they would be hanged or burned if caught. It has been said that certain rituals performed by early-American witches helped shield their settlements from attacks by Native Americans.

Magic can effect many outcomes, some good and some evil, depending on the type of magic and the intentions of the practitioner. The more well-known types of magic are denoted by colors.

"Black magic" is performed with the intention of harming another being, either as a means of building the practitioner's power or as the goal itself. The underlying ideology upon which black magic is based states that the practitioner and his or her pursuit of knowledge and/or physical well-being, are more important than other concerns, theological or ethical. "Green magic" involves the practitioner's attuning himself or herself to nature and the world around him or her. "White magic" is where the practitioner attunes himself or herself to the needs of human society and attempts to meet those needs. This is a form of "personal betterment" magic, and does not entail harming other beings.

"Grey magic" is magic that is neither green, nor black, nor white, and which usually replaces the absolute stand of these realms with an ethical code that is particular to the practitioner. It is a type of magic all its own, and may be used for many different purposes. "Folk magic" is an eclectic collection of herbalism, faith healing, curses and hexes, candle magic, and other workings that has thrived in rural areas for centuries. There is also the term, "hedge wizard," which refers to an individual who attempts to practice magic with little or no formal training.

An historical overview of how modern-day magic evolved from the beliefs and customs of the Celts and other ancient, Indo-European peoples.

The roots of magic come from the Celts, a people living between 700 BC and 100 AD. Believed to be descendants of Indo-Europeans, the Celts were a brilliant and dynamic people - gifted artists, musicians, storytellers, metalworkers, expert farmers and fierce warriors. They were much feared by their adversaries, the Romans, who eventually adopted a number of their customs and traditions.

The Celts were a deeply spiritual people, who worshiped both a god and goddess. Their religion was pantheistic, meaning they worshiped many aspects of the "One Creative Life Source" and honored the presence of the "Divine Creator" in all of nature. Like many tribes the world over, they believed in reincarnation. After death, they went to the Summerland for rest and renewal while awaiting rebirth.

The months of the Celtic year were named after trees. The Celtic new year began at Samhain, which means "summers end," and was the final harvest of the year. This was also their "Festival of the Dead," where they honored their ancestors and deceased loved ones. Many contemporary Halloween customs come from Samhain.

Next on the wheel of the Celtic year was the Winter Solstice, celebrating the annual rebirth of the Sun. Our Christmas customs today are similar to this ancient celebration. Around the beginning of February came Imbolg, a time when domesticated animals began to give birth. The Spring Equinox and Beltaine, sometimes called "May Day," were fertility festivals. The Summer Solstice, known as Lughnassa, celebrated the glory of the Sun and the powers of nature. Lughnassa, the Fall Equinox, and Samhain, were considered as Celtic harvest festivals.

The "Druids" were the priests of the Celtic religion. They remained in power through the fourth century AD, three centuries after the Celts' defeat at the hands of the Romans. The Druids were priests, teachers, judges, astrologers, healers and bards. They became indispensable to the political leaders, giving them considerable power and influence. They were peacemakers, and were able to pass from one warring tribe to another unharmed. It took twenty years of intense study to become a Druid.

Translated, the word Druid means "knowing the oak tree." Trees, the oak in particular, were held sacred by the Celts. Mistletoe, which grows as a parasite on oak trees, was a powerful herb used in their ceremonies and for healing. Mistletoe was ritually harvested at the Summer Solstice by cutting it with a golden sickle and catching it with a white cloth while never letting it fall to the ground.


Magical rituals are the precisely defined actions (including speech) used to work magic. described as ritual language  possessing a high "coefficient of weirdness",

by which he means that the language used in ritual is archaic and out of the ordinary, which helps foster the proper mindset to believe in the ritual.

Some historians note however, that even if the power of the ritual is said to reside in the words, "the words only become effective if uttered in a very special context of other action."

These other actions typically consist of gestures, possibly performed with special objects at a particular place or time. Object, location, and performer may require "purification" beforehand. A parallel  is drawn to the felicity conditions  requiring performative utterances. 

By "performativity" is that the ritual act itself achieves the stated goal. For example,

a wedding ceremony can be understood as a ritual, and only by properly performing the ritual does the marriage occur.

The importance of rituals as a tool to achieve "collective effervescence", which serves to help unify society. On the other hand, some psychologists compare such rituals to obsessive-compulsive rituals, noting that attentional focus falls on the lower level representation of simple gestures.

This results in goal demotion, as the ritual places more emphasis on performing the ritual just right than on the connection between the ritual and the goal.

Magical symbols

Helm of Awe (ægishjálmr) - magical symbol worn by Vikings for invincibility. Modern day use by Ásatrú followers for protection.

Magic often utilizes symbols that are thought to be intrinsically efficacious. Anthropologists, such as Sir James Frazer (1854–1938), have characterized the implementation of symbols into two primary categories: the "principle of similarity", and the "principle of contagion." Frazer further categorized these principles as falling under "sympathetic magic", and "contagious magic." Frazer asserted that these concepts were "general or generic laws of thought, which were misapplied in magic."

Principle of similarity

The principle of similarity, also known as the "association of ideas", which falls under the category of sympathetic magic, is the thought that if a certain result follows a certain action, then that action must be responsible for the result. Therefore, if one is to perform this action again, the same result can again be expected.

One classic example of this mode of thought is that of the rooster and the sunrise. When a rooster crows, it is a response to the rising of the sun. Based on sympathetic magic, one might interpret these series of events differently. The law of similarity would suggest that since the sunrise follows the crowing of the rooster, the rooster must have caused the sun to rise.

Causality is inferred where it might not otherwise have been. Therefore, a practitioner might believe that if he is able to cause the rooster to crow, he will be able to control the timing of the sunrise. Another use of the principle of similarity is the construction and manipulation of representations of some target to be affected (e.g. voodoo dolls), believed to bring about a corresponding effect on the target (e.g. breaking a limb of a doll will bring about an injury in the corresponding limb of someone depicted by the doll).

Principle of contagion

Another primary type of magical thinking includes the principle of contagion. This principle suggests that once two objects come into contact with each other, they will continue to affect each other even after the contact between them has been broken. One example that Tambiah gives is related to adoption. Among some American Indians, for example, when a child is adopted his or her adoptive mother will pull the child through some of her clothes, symbolically representing the birth process and thereby associating the child with herself.

Therefore, the child emotionally becomes hers even though their relationship is not biological. As Claude Lévi-Strauss would put it: the birth "would consist, therefore, in making explicit a situation originally existing on the emotional level and in rendering acceptable to the mind pains which the body refuses to tolerate...the woman believes in the myth and belongs to a society which believes in it."

Symbols, for many cultures that use magic, are seen as a type of technology. Natives might use symbols and symbolic actions to bring about change and improvements, much like Western cultures might use advanced irrigation techniques to promote soil fertility and crop growth. Michael Brown discusses the use of nantag stones among the Aguaruna as being similar to this type of "technology."

These stones are brought into contact with stem cuttings of plants like manioc before they are planted in an effort to promote growth. Nantag are powerful tangible symbols of fertility, so they are brought into contact with crops to transmit their fertility to the plants.

Others argue that ritualistic actions are merely therapeutic. Tambiah cites the example of a native hitting the ground with a stick. While some may interpret this action as symbolic (i.e. the man is trying to make the ground yield crops through force), others would simply see a man unleashing his frustration at poor crop returns. Ultimately, whether or not an action is symbolic depends upon the context of the situation as well as the ontology of the culture. Many symbolic actions are derived from mythology and unique associations, whereas other ritualistic actions are just simple expressions of emotion and are not intended to enact any type of change.

Magical language

The Magic spell and Magic word.

The performance of magic almost always involves the use of language. Whether spoken out loud or unspoken, words are frequently used to access or guide magical power. In "The Magical Power of Words" (1968) S. J. Tambiah argues that the connection between language and magic is due to a belief in the inherent ability of words to influence the universe. Bronisław Malinowski, in Coral Gardens and their Magic (1935), suggests that this belief is an extension of man's basic use of language to describe his surroundings, in which "the knowledge of the right words, appropriate phrases and the more highly developed forms of speech, gives man a power over and above his own limited field of personal action." Magical speech is therefore a ritual act and is of equal or even greater importance to the performance of magic than non-verbal acts.

Not all speech is considered magical. Only certain words and phrases or words spoken in a specific context are considered to have magical power.

Magical language, according to C. K. Ogden and I. A. Richards's (1923) categories of speech, is distinct from scientific language because it is emotive and it converts words into symbols for emotions; whereas in scientific language words are tied to specific meanings and refer to an objective external reality.

Magical language is therefore particularly adept at constructing metaphors that establish symbols and link magical rituals to the world.

Malinowski argues that "the language of magic is sacred, set and used for an entirely different purpose to that of ordinary life."

The two forms of language are differentiated through word choice, grammar, style, or by the use of specific phrases or forms:spells, songs, blessings, or chants, for example. Sacred modes of language often employ archaic words and forms in an attempt to invoke the purity or "truth" of a religious or a cultural "golden age". 

Another potential source of the power of words is their secrecy and exclusivity.

Much sacred language is differentiated enough from common language that it is incomprehensible to the majority of the population and it can only be used and interpreted by specialized practitioners (magicians, priests, shamans, even mullahs).

In this respect, Tambiah argues that magical languages violate the primary function of language: communication.

Yet adherents of magic are still able to use and to value the magical function of words by believing in the inherent power of the words themselves and in the meaning that they must provide for those who do understand them. This leads Tambiah to conclude that "the remarkable disjunction between sacred and profane language which exists as a general fact is not necessarily linked to the need to embody sacred words in an exclusive language.

The  "paranormal" Magician

A magician is any practitioner of magic; therefore a magician may be a specialist or a common practitioner, even if he or she does not consider himself a magician.

Magical knowledge is usually passed down from one magician to another through family or apprenticeships, though in some cultures it may also be purchased.

The information transferred usually consists of instructions on how to perform a variety of rituals, manipulate magical objects, or how to appeal to gods or to other supernatural forces. Magical knowledge is often well guarded, as it is a valuable commodity to which each magician believes that he has a proprietary right.

Yet the possession of magical knowledge alone may be insufficient to grant magical power; often a person must also possess certain magical objects, traits or life experiences in order to be a magician. Among the Azande, for example, in order to question an oracle a man must have both the physical oracle (poison, or a washboard, for example) and knowledge of the words and the rites needed to make the object function.

A variety of personal traits may be credited to magical power, though frequently they are associated with an unusual birth into the world.

For example, in 16th century Friuli, babies born with the caul were believed to be good witches, benandanti, who would engage evil witches in nighttime battles over the bounty of the next year's crops.

Certain post-birth experiences may also be believed to convey magical power. For example a person's survival of a near-death illness may be taken as evidence of their power as a healer: in Bali a medium's survival is proof of her association with a patron deity and therefore her ability to communicate with other gods and spirits.

Initiations are perhaps the most commonly used ceremonies to establish and to differentiate magicians from common people. In these rites the magician's relationship to the supernatural and his entry into a closed professional class is established, often through rituals that simulate death and rebirth into a new life.

Given the exclusivity of the criteria needed to become a magician, much magic is performed by specialists.

Laypeople will likely have some simple magical rituals for everyday living, but in situations of particular importance, especially when health or major life events are concerned, a specialist magician will often be consulted.

The powers of both specialist and common magicians are determined by culturally accepted standards of the sources and the breadth of magic. A magician may not simply invent or claim new magic; the magician is only as powerful as his peers believe him to be.

In different cultures, various types of magicians may be differentiated based on their abilities, their sources of power, and on moral considerations, including divisions into different categories like sorcerer, witch, healer and others.


In non-scientific societies, perceived magical attack is an idea sometimes employed to explain personal or societal misfortune. 

In anthropological and historical contexts this is often termed witchcraft orsorcery, and the perceived attackers 'witches' or 'sorcerers'. Their maleficium is often seen as a biological trait or an acquired skill.

Known members of the community may be accused as witches, or the witches may be perceived as supernatural, non-human entities.

In early modern Europe and Britain such accusations led to the executions of tens of thousands of people, who were seen to be in league with Satan. Those accused of being satanic 'witches' were often practitioners of (usually benign) folk magic, and the English term 'witch' was also sometimes used without its pejorative sense to describe such practitioners.

The Magic That We DON'T Do

Through late 14th century Old French magique, the word "magic" derives via Latin magicus from the Greek adjective magikos (μαγικός) used in reference to the "magical" arts of the Persian Magicians(Greek: magoi.

Singular mágos, μάγος), the Zoroastrian astrologer priests of the ancient Persian Empire. Greek mágos is first attested in Heraclitus (6th century BC, apud. Clement Protrepticus 12) who curses the Magians and others for their "impious rites".

Likewise, sorcery was taken in ca. 1300 from Old French sorcerie, which is from Vulgar Latin *sortiarius, from sors "fate", apparently meaning "one who influences fate".

Modern Day "Magic" -  ​The Performing Art

Etymology of the word Magic

I never met someone claiming to have "supernatural" powers, like a witch, ghoul or vampire that I couldn't dispense of quickly with a short burst of an Uzi sub machine gun, c4 or some DET cord wrapped around their neck.

- Moshe Dayan

The History

Of Witchcraft And Magic . . . In Europe